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UK courses and qualifications delivered overseas

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Want to gain a UK qualification outside the UK?

Each year, over 590,000 students worldwide gain a UK qualification  without travelling to the UK.

There are countless advantages to a UK qualification, but for many students, moving to study in the UK is not possible.

The good news is that many UK universities, colleges and schools offer courses and qualifications that are taught or awarded overseas (sometimes called ‘transnational education’ or TNE).

Read on to find out more:

1. Why study for a UK qualification overseas?
2. What are the options?
3. Finding and choosing a course
    •  UK courses in Singapore
    •  UK courses in Hong Kong
    •  UK courses in Malaysia

Why study for a UK qualification overseas?

Reputation and quality: UK education standards are respected by employers and academics worldwide – UK schools, colleges and universities consistently rank highly for quality of education, student satisfaction and employment prospects.

There are rigorous quality assurance systems, and courses delivered overseas by recognised UK schools, colleges and universities are subject to the same standards as those taught within the UK. Find out more in Gain a world-class education.

Cost: Choosing a UK qualification delivered overseas can be more cost-effective than studying in the UK. You can save on airfare, and living costs such as accommodation may be cheaper. You can also continue working if you choose to study part-time and work alongside your studies.

Looking for a scholarship? See Scholarships and financial support and the three guides to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore below.

Career: Gaining a UK qualification will boost your employment prospects – in the 2013 QS Rankings, employers ranked five UK universities in the global top 10, and UK-educated international graduates have higher average salaries. Many international students study for a UK qualification part-time alongside a job – this lets you build experience in the workplace and progress in your career while studying.

You’ll also benefit from studying in English, gaining international exposure (on a UK course delivered overseas, you’re likely to meet lecturers and students from around the world), and gaining the skills in critical thinking and innovation that all UK degrees offer.

Flexibility: There are thousands of undergraduate, postgraduate and professional qualifications to choose from, available full-time or part-time.

Studying closer to home means you can stay close to friends and family. For the experience of living abroad, however, you could choose a programme that allows you to complete part of your course in the UK – the best of both worlds!

What are the options?

Distance or online learning
In distance learning programmes, classes might be conducted online via forums, instant messaging, social media, blogs and email. Some have ‘virtual’ lectures and seminars, where students participate through webcams. You might also receive course materials in print or on CD. These courses are ideal for part-time study, but you need to be disciplined to ensure you complete all assignments and projects on time.

A growing number of universities in the UK are offering students the chance to do some of their course as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). A MOOC is an online week-by-week course, offering you the chance to interact directly with university tutors. It's usually free to take part in a MOOC, although you have to pay for a certificate at the end. 

Mostly, you won't be able to do an entire degree as a MOOC. However, increasing numbers of UK universities are offering students the chance to convert MOOCs into degree credits.

Successful course takers might also get a special offer if they want to go on to enroll at the university. Some universities also offer scholarships or part-scholarships for students who do extremely well in their MOOC

Find out more in our article about one of the biggest UK MOOC platforms, FutureLearn.

International branch campuses
Several UK universities, colleges and schools have a campus or academic buildings in other countries. These campuses often have a real UK atmosphere – lessons are taught in English, and some teachers and other students may be from the UK. This is a great way to experience student life, plus you’ll receive the same qualification as if you had studied in the UK.

Franchised programmes
Sometimes known as a 3+0 programme (meaning you do the full three years in one place, and spend no time in the UK), this is a UK degree course studied entirely at a local institution. The UK university or college will license a local institution to teach the course – this means the UK institution oversees academic standards and awards the final certification, but students don’t need to attend the UK campus.

Twinning
Students on twinning programmes will spend some time in the UK. These are joint study programmes, where students study at one institution and transfer to the other at a specified stage. Twinning programmes are available as 2+1 (two years spent studying locally and one spent overseas), 1+2 (the other way around), 1.5+1.5 (splitting your time equally), or another balance depending on the length of your course.

Validation
In this arrangement, the course is entirely developed and taught by a local institution, and validated by a UK institution. Although the UK institution may not deliver the same course, there is a strict system of accreditation to ensure the award is of the same standard as other UK awards at the same level.

Joint, double or dual degrees
These programmes are jointly developed and recognised by two or more institutions. The local institution might have teaching staff from the UK, and some courses include a year abroad. At the end of the programme, students receive either separate degrees from the two institutions (dual award), or a degree that’s awarded jointly from both (joint award).

Credit transfer
Sometimes called ‘articulation’, this means a UK institution recognises the ‘credits’ a student has gained from studying at a local institution. You might start studying in your home country and build up three or four credits for each subject you take, for example, then transfer these credits and continue your studies in the UK.

Top-up programmes
If you hold a 'sub-degree' which is recognised in the UK (such as an HND or Associate degree) from a local institution, with a ‘top-up’ programme you may be able to convert this into a UK bachelor’s degree in 9 to 18 months (compared to three years for a full UK bachelor’s programme).

Full-time or part-time
Many of these courses could be studied either full-time or part-time. For undergraduate degrees, this means you could study full-time and complete the course in three years, or study part-time (evenings and weekends) for five or six years. You could complete a master’s degree in one year full-time, or two years part-time. There are many more options – check out the guides below to find out more.

Finding and choosing a UK course delivered overseas

When choosing a course, check that the UK provider is a reputable school, college or university that is recognised by the UK government and education bodies. Please see the following sections for more details: Education for students aged 16 and under, Learn English, Further education, Higher education.

Online/distance learning

The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC) sets standards for distance learning and home study courses, and can give you a list of the education providers that have been assessed.

You can also find thousands of online and distance-learning UK courses with our course search tool. Just select the level and subject you want to study, then filter your search results by ‘study mode’ (on the left side of the screen, check the box for ‘Distance/Online’).

UK courses around the world

UK courses are available in many countries around the world. Three of the most popular destinations are Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia:

UK courses in Singapore

In Singapore, over 50 UK universities have partnered with more than 120 Singaporean education institutions, offering 1,150 UK qualifications to Singaporean and international students. In total, 52,000 students are enrolled on UK courses here, studying for degrees in business, hospitality and tourism, accounting, marketing and media, IT and much more – plus MBAs and other postgraduate qualifications.

See Cohort magazine, the guide for students in Singapore.

UK courses in Hong Kong

Over 30,000 students are studying for a UK qualification in Hong Kong, with a choice of over 700 courses, and numbers are growing every year. The UK offers 60% of non-local programmes in Hong Kong, with high-quality teaching and facilities. Many top UK universities offer full degree programmes through local partners, and there are courses accredited by professional organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

See our Guide to UK qualifications in Hong Kong

UK courses in Malaysia

The UK is the leading provider of international qualification programmes in Malaysia, with more than 58,000 students enrolled in over 800 courses annually – from pre-university through to postgraduate and professional qualifications. Malaysia is fast becoming a leading international education hub, and the UK qualifications offered here are among the best in the world.

See our Guide to UK qualifications in Malaysia